501 Deportee, the real deal.
As a recent 501 deportee from Australia I have been more than dumbfounded at not only the treatment I have received but also the misinformed media coverage on offer.
It is a large issue to discuss, but if we talk about it all at once, no one will be heard. As my high school teachers used to say, one at a time.
My focus here is the so called “reintegration system” that awaits those in a similar situation to mine.
Quick update on me. I was subject to a supreme judge court ordered release date and deported the same day. Was not deemed a high risk returned offender so was not escorted on my trip back to NZ, after 33 years in OZ. Non-violent, non-sexual offender.
I was not met as I disembarked in Auckland, in fact I had to find a police officer to explain who I was and my situation. He frowned at my duty-free purchase but as I said, no one has told me otherwise, in fact, no one has explained anything.
I was led VIP style through immigration, all eyes on this 6’3 man being escorted to the front of lines and receiving priority treatment by a police officer.
Shortly afterwards we entered a small room with two corrections representatives, and I was handed a small forests worth of paperwork to sign. No legal representation in sight but as a “free” man it all seemed a formality. I was then printed, photographed and had my DNA taken. I also signed an agreement to 30 days “special conditions” order, basically a new age term for parole.
All the while wondering why all this for a free man. Done my time, released with no parole conditions, back for what I hoped would be a fresh start in my country of birth.
I was then
taken to a small hotel in the city where I resided for 2
weeks. It would have been shorter, but corrections forgot
about me week one, so I had to track them down to alert them
that my accommodation soon expired.
I received my food vouchers and some clothing allowance, nothing to allow boutique shopping but enough to survive.
After tracking down my only direct family member still living in NZ I was “approved” to reside with her.
Still, my weekly parole
visits continued until one day I was advised that the
following week I had to appear in court to “revise” my
special conditions so they would stay in place for another
11 months. At no stage up to this date had I been advised I
would have to return to court.
It was now becoming obvious why there is a 40% recidivism rate for returning offenders. By my calculations that, after 5 years of this deportee fiasco, you would expect a grade above C+.
Continual shrugs and shaking of heads eventually wears you down. At approximately $90,000 per annum to accommodate an inmate, there must be a wiser way to spend the taxpayer’s cash.
And I still cannot fathom how parole for an otherwise free man assists in reintegration. It does assist in costing me a weekly 40Km round trip.
I have been here 2 months. Have had no offered assistance in job hunting or even creating a CV. I have had the police visit, I have signed in weekly for parole, I have been drug tested.
My day in court came, I’m still not quite sure why, and I refused to agree to the extension of my “special conditions”. Nervous shuffling of documents and mumbling soon alerted me to the fact that out of the approximately 5,000 deportees who have arrived since 2015, I was the first to say “no”.
I am in no way criticising the people I have dealt with. They are as much victims of a ludicrous system as me. The “corrections team” in charge of deportee’s numbers just 5. They deserve a medal. PARS have been fantastic in doing what they can with what they have not got.
Press releases detailing the numbers arriving, how the system will process them and how all the Government departments involved will strive to protect the community is basic spin.
Perhaps the Government need to start talking to people who have been through this journey and listen instead of applying an antiquated process to a new problem.
So, my fight begins, but it is not just for me. Perhaps the benefits of reporting the process will alert others waiting their turn. Perhaps even the Government might listen, take notes and work towards a better solution.
Miracles have been known to happen.